IT’S easy to feel alone when you are a 15-year-old diagnosed with lung cancer.
Jackson O’Brien knows it better than most.
“I got lung cancer, from there I found myself falling into a spiral with depression and anxiety and became a person I wasn’t,” he said.
“I was struggling because I didn’t feel people understood, I didn’t feel I could open up to them.”
After a friend empowered him to make positive changes for his mental health, Jackson put up his own hand as an ambassador for preventative mental health service Batyr.
There are two Being Herd workshops coming up in Tamworth, that teaches participants to build the skills and confidence to share their stories.
When Jackson was diagnosed there wasn’t much around for young people suffering with mental illness.
“My ongoing battle with mental health moved past that age and it’s still with me today, it never stops – mental health is a spectrum and it goes from a bad extreme to good, right now I’m sitting in the good extreme,” he said.
“The program itself is situated around empowering people to tackle the stigma around mental health and start a conversation in the community.
“It was quite hard being from a rural area, when it happened Tamworth didn’t have many mental health supports or facilities.”
The Being Herd workshop runs over a day and a half and brings together a small group of people between 18 and 30 to discuss mental illness.
It ranges from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, substance abuse, bullying, stress and other mental health issues.
Participants talk about how they reached out for support and manage their wellbeing and will listen to a talk from an example speaker like Jackson.
He has travelled extensively as a Batyr mentor including to Japan.
“Anyone would benefit from going, even if you haven’t been through your own mental illness just go and it will help understand what other people are going through,” he said.
The workshops are on February 9 and 10.